Two seemingly unrelated BBC headlines from February may hold the key to the way ahead for our strategy in Afghanistan. From Pakistan, Prime Minister Raza Gilani said that "Pakistan would like to engage with the U.S. to build a new global strategic consensus for peace, security and stability in the region." From Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said "he would welcome talks with the U.S. as long as they were based on 'mutual respect.'"
We must understand that the most important fighting in the region is not in Afghanistan or Iraq—it is in Pakistan. Blinded by a light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq and economic woes at home, the American public has missed the story about the important combat going on there. These operations escalated in 2008 into open warfare between the new government in Islamabad and the Taliban in the tribal areas of the Northwest Frontier. Especially heavy fighting has and is occurring in the Swat Valley where Osama bin Laden is reputedly hiding.